Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Q & A with J.T. Brannan

I always love it when writers put some kind of fresh spin on the PI job. J.T. Brannan created a cool spin of his one with  Colt Ryder, The Thousand Dollar Man. Here's what he had to tell us.

Q: What makes Colt Ryder different from other hardboiled characters?

He’s motivated by a deep-rooted sense of justice, it controls who he is as a person; and even though he charges a thousand dollars a job, he is not motivated by money at all. The money is only a symbol, to ascertain the seriousness of his potential clients. In this way, he’s not really tied to the things which define a normal person, or even a normal detective/PI/hardboiled character – money, property, personal relationships, and so on. He owns nothing except the clothes on his back, and his only friend is his dog, Kane. He is kind of like a monk, someone who has divested himself of the normal concerns of life and dedicates himself entirely to his cause. Although he is perhaps not quite as well-behaved as a monk!

Q: How did you come up with the character?

When I was planning the series, I was reminded of the old A-Team TV show – combat vets from Vietnam roaming America, helping people in trouble. I thought it might be fun to come up with a ‘one-man A-team’, which is how Colt Ryder was born. And I thought that if he’s just one man alone, wandering the United States, he could do with a friend, which is why I came up with Kane, his half-Alsatian, half-Mastiff buddy. I love dogs, so I was very happy to have one as a character in the series; he keeps Colt company, and often helps him out when he needs it!

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist really, so initially it took me by surprise. But it’s an amazing thing, it brings the joy of reading to a lot more people than may have been the case in the past. It’s also great from an author’s perspective, it has enabled writers to break free from the yoke of the big publishers and given everyone a relatively equal chance to be discovered. It’s democratized the industry to a large extent, and that can only be a good thing, for both writers and readers.

Q: What's next for you and your characters?

Colt Ryder is up to his neck in trouble next month, when THE THOUSAND DOLLAR BREAKOUT sees him uncovering an illegal fight club in San Quentin prison. I’ve got a new Mark Cole thriller out at the end of the year too, but before that, I’m also launching a new series called THE EXTRACTOR, which will definitely be interesting – watch this space!

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?

Take my children to all of their activities! But other than that, I teach Karate and enjoy working out at the gym, playing tennis and walking the dogs. I also read at pretty much any opportunity I can get.

Q: How do you promote your work?

I often do interviews, and I am active on Twitter and Facebook. Through Grey Arrow Publishing, we also do certain sales promotions – sometimes we offer my eBooks for free for a limited period, or for a lower cost using tools such as Kindle Countdown, and so on, whilst with paperbacks we do prize giveaways. But mainly it’s through word of mouth and positive reviews, which help to create a loyal readership.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 

I’m a big fan of political, military and espionage thrillers. Any sort of thriller, really!

Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?

It’s got to be Lee Child, really – almost everyone has read a Jack Reacher novel at some stage, and with the added exposure from the recent movies, I think he’s going to leave an important legacy that will continue to influence writers in this genre for years to come.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?

I think it offers great scope for creating exciting stories which are rooted in a gritty reality that people like to read about. You can use real events, things that you read about in the papers – whether it’s the Mexican drugs trade, or government corruption scandals, or countless other examples – and develop exciting fictional stories out of them, darker stories with real atmosphere. It’s a fantastic genre, and I always hope that my passion for it shows through in my work.

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